TRAVEL THERAPY #11:
It’s Time to Find My Place
I didn’t have a specific intention before I left for my week in Sydney, but the city quickly set one for me—to find my place.
“Once you’ve examined your needs for travel, consider the places that most help you fulfill the aim. Setting an intention for travel can bring rewards, invite synchronicity and open new doors. It can revive a weary soul, promote healing, allow for time to bond with family and friends, and give a new perspective on what’s important.” | DEBRA MOFFIT
The idea for me to find my place was first brought to my attention in Kauai—but I put it up on a shelf while I sifted through all the earth shattering repercussions of a midlife transition that happened as a result of that journey. But, Sydney made it impossible for me to ignore the likelihood that my hometown of San Diego wasn’t a good fit for me—and may, in fact, be a significant contributor to a feeling that things are not as they should be in my life.
There are many parallels between Sydney and San Diego—the English language, a temperate climate, a beach/surf culture, a downtown on the water, and a steady flow of tourists. But, as similar as they are, I saw some major differences.
Honestly, in my opinion, Sydney blows San Diego out of the water (no pun intended). The manmade aspects of Sydney far surpass those of San Diego—and so do the people. I wholeheartedly agree with my husband’s theory—”It’s because Sydney has soul.”
Even smack in the middle of the downtown business district, there are trees, parks and an abundance of interior and exterior spaces that are actually appreciated and used by the people who live and work there.
Unlike San Diego’s disjointed tourist-dominated waterfront, Sydney’s is extremely walkable, jam packed with treasures, and teaming with locals who will actually look you in the eye and say the Australian version of hello (“G’day Mate!”).
The city and the local businesses make a concerted effort to have the main commercial areas be more than just tourist destinations. There are more quality restaurants, a vibrant weekly outdoor market, and tons of cultural events and performances. The street buskers add a whole other layer of flavor and no one can resist the strolling by the opera house and Harbour Bridge.
The city’s Botanic Gardens are like no other urban park I’ve ever visited. Less like a park and more like a stunning cage-less zoo, the gardens are filled with wild cockatiels, thousands of bats, marveling tourists and locals soaking it all up. And, then there’s the zoo, an aquarium, museums, beaches and the very cool looking Luna Amusement Park.
Sydney also made it clear that I am starved for human connections—which are not so easy to come by in San Diego, where most people pass you by without uttering a simple hello. (Anyone who knows me gets that this alone is reason enough for me to find my place!)
In just seven days in Sydney, I had several especially memorable connections with very special people.
Every morning, my husband and I had breakfast in the upstairs “Club” and were served by a young Indonesian woman named Wina. By the end of the week, I had learned all about her family—and she about mine.
My crazy stroke of good luck that landed me a private Harbour Bridge climb also gave me the gift of my personal guide, Mick. We talked for hours—about the bridge, Sydney and life. He shared intimate details of his unique journey and reassured me that all was as it should be with mine and my son’s.
My effort to connect with our server at one of our nightly dinners was not only appreciated, but enthusiastically reciprocated. My reward was a mind blowing experience at the Botanic Gardens that I would have missed if not for his insider info.
Given similar geographical and human resources, I’m baffled why my city falls woefully short of Sydney. But, I’m starting to understand that I need to be in a place that doesn’t. I definitely think there’s something to this whole “soul” thing.
I don’t know where it is yet—which is not a problem since I can’t go anywhere anytime soon—but, I am going to pay close attention on future wanders so I’ll be able to find my place and get myself there as soon as I’m able.